I understand why Apple may be reticent to advertise Mac OS X on television. Thirty seconds is too brief a time to be able to show anything of substance. And, they’ve tried the concept (with the Classic Mac OS) before in the past (even going so far as trying long-form infomercials) and it just didn’t work.
But, now, with their network of retail stores, Apple has what they never had before – highly visible places where they can direct people after they’ve whetted their imaginations with TV commercials. Not advertising Mac OS X on television now is nothing short of criminal. My hope is that, very soon, Apple will address the lack of Mac OS X advertising, particularly on TV.
I’m not suggesting that Apple try to explain why Mac OS X is better for the average personal computer user. Apple should simply be showing brief vignettes of Mac OS X doing visually appealing things that look “cool.” Yes, I’m talking pretty much all flash and no substance. Even though I hate the term I’m going to use it, Apple needs to show Mac OS X’s “eye candy.” That’s what would work and it’s really all Apple needs to show on TV. After all, why make it so beautiful if you’re not going to show it to the world? Is it just for the Mac users’ benefit or does Apple want to use it to sell more Macs?
The purpose of these commercials is not to create instant switchers who will toss out their Windows boxes for Macs. The sole purpose of these commercials is to drive people into Apple retail stores by creating curiosity. Yes, I realize that the iPod is doing a good job of driving people into the Apple stores, but a good TV campaign featuring Mac OS X would do an even better job.
How do I know it would work? Only because it does. Whenever I am on a plane or somewhere and people catch what’s happening on my PowerBook’s screen, I get questions. And the questioning means people are curious, at least it does to me.
What should Apple show on TV? Just point the camera over someone’s shoulder while they’re rippling through a Dock full of icons with Magnification on full bore. Show a Finder window Genie effecting down into the Dock and then Genie another one up in Column View. Quickly and easily navigate Column View to find a QuickTime movie. Play the movie and Genie it down into the Dock. Roll over it and show it playing in the Dock. Genie another movie window out while it’s playing and Zoom (Command-Option-+) right in to it. Fade to the Apple logo and the words “Visit an Apple Store to discover more about Mac OS X” or something to that effect. No music, just the natural sound of wherever the Mac happens to be and the audio produced by the Mac when it’s making sound. The person could be at home with the sound of a TV on faintly in the background, on a plane, on a train, in a classroom, in Starbucks, or wherever else you’d find a Mac in action.
The idea above is just an example, the point is just to show people how Mac OS X does things in “cool” ways and get them interested. These ads are not to try to show how someone can import from a DV camera to make an iMovie, burn a DVD and send it to their parents. These ads are not to show how to do anything. They’re just for show. Imagine ads with Tiger’s Dashboard Widgets, iChat AV in action, Exposé, the Fast User Switching 3-D cube effect, Heads-up Application Switcher (Command-Tab), playing The Sims, MS Word running on a Mac, etc. Just show it.
My guess is that Apple could pack a campaign of unique thirty-second ads with very compelling visuals that would really be eye openers to millions of people who are totally or mostly unfamiliar with what today’s Mac can do and get them to say “wow!” That’s exactly what happens over my shoulder or in the seat next to me in-flight. Too many people have no idea what today’s Mac is, how it looks, and how things move and act onscreen. How many people see that white Apple logo and walk right past the store in the mall thinking, “oh, the iPod store” or “that’s not really for me.”
The best advertising is deadly simple. I truly believe that if Apple would just show the gorgeousness of Mac OS X to mass TV audiences they’d increase the foot traffic in Apple retail stores with curious personal computer users who’ve never seen or imagined anything like Mac OS X before. And once Apple gets them into the Apple store, the staff can explain the substance that lies beneath the “eye candy.”
SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.
Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple to ship Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ on Friday, April 29; pre-orders start today – April 12, 2005
Why doesn’t Apple show its patented Mac OS X ‘Genie Effect’ in TV ads? – October 07, 2004
Top Ten things Apple needs to show the world about Macintosh – July 30, 2003